This week, the WMID office created our 20,000th record since the start of the PAS. The bulk of those records are coins and pot sherds but amongst all those records are some wonderful finds, some of which have contributed to a change in archaeological understanding of the area.
Outstanding finds include:
But there are many other gems within.
To highlight a few, each member of the team has chosen a couple of finds as their favourites and here they are:
Victoria enjoyed recording this Roman copper-alloy helmet cheek-piece discovered near the Roman settlement known as Pennocrucium, which survives now only as buried archaeological features. These are rare finds to be recorded on the database.
Not only was it exciting to record because of its rarity but it also allowed further a deeper understanding of the Roman landscape of the area around Watling street (A5) and the Roman fortress that may have once been situated in the area. Another helmet cheek-piece recorded by The Portable Antiquities Scheme is part of 33 fragments, with 34 smaller fragments found in association which was subsequently restored and is now referred to as the Crosby Garrett helmet.
Victoria’s other favourite object recorded recently is this copper alloy vessel mount of Late Iron Age / early Roman date, circa AD 50 – 200.
The moulded swirling design is stunning and resembles other decoration seen on objects with La Tene motifs. It is suggested by the experts at the British Museum and our national finds advisor Sally that it was used as a vessel mount or perhaps a harness fitting. We do not see many objects from the Iron Age in Staffordshire, if we do they are likely coins or brooches so this really stood out as something special.
Amongst all the finds that Teresa has dealt, the two she has chosen are: A modern silver set of dentures. Although the PAS generally records finds older than 300 years, with more recent finds being at the local FLOs discretion, finds like this can tell us a lot about personal hygiene and appearance. This set of dentures was manufactured between AD 1800 and AD 1930s, using a low grade silver. A couple of human teeth still survive in situ. Although animal or ivory teeth were used, human teeth were preferable as they lasted longer in the harsh environment of the mouth. These teeth could come from a variety of sources, including off the battlefield (aka Waterloo teeth) or the Poor donating them for money.
The other find she has chosen, is slightly older in date, Medieval, around 1350 to 1400 AD, a decorative two part strap clasp. These figurative strap clasps are a personal favourite as they form a side research project. This type of strap fitting is relatively unusual in the published literature, especially from stratified contexts, but over 150 have been recorded on the PAS database. This has enabled several different types to be identified, from a bird like type, to an animal head and several versions of a human head.
Jade’s favourite two are:
WMID-AE6ED4– an incomplete annular brooch, of early thirteenth century dating. This was one of the first finds that she recorded and therefore it really stands out. The shape of the brooch is interesting and amazing that the paste that would have secured each gem in a collet has survived. It made her wonder whether any of the gems did survive and where were they now. This one started an interest in brooches and although she has recorded many more to the database, none stand out quite like this one.
WMID-AE0427– A complete lead alloy papal bulla, issued by Pope Martin V (AD1417 to AD1431), dating to the period AD1417 to AD 1431. It stood out as it was the first Papal Bulla she had seen, made her curious to know the details of the message that this bulla sealed. Some of the damage that this item received may have been due to it being used as an amulet, as has been postulated. This secondary usage would have given the bulla another purpose entirely and it may have continued to have been relevant in daily life for a much longer period of time, possibly even outlasting the Pope who issued it.
Bob has selected these two:
WMID-38FE5C – Though there are several more complete and more decorative examples to be seen on the database, I love this object because, despite its damage, it still demonstrates the potential beauty of what is essentially a practical item. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the dress hook was something that you might only catch a glimpse of among items of clothing, depending on how it was worn and used. For example, attached (using sewn tapes) to a garment, the hook might be used to hold up the garment hem when walking in wet conditions. Other ways in which dress hooks may have been used would be to attach the bottom of a shawl to a belt (to prevent it flapping in the breeze), or to support hosiery (much in the same way as the more modern suspenders).
WMID-300551 – This pendant and others like it reminded him of the gloriously romantic pictures of chivalrous knights performing their ‘deeds of derring do’. Their horses were always resplendent in highly decorative livery, proudly displaying the arms of their lord. With Teresa & Victoria’s help, a little research showed that the decipherable details of the arms appearing on this example pendant corresponded greatly to the heraldry depicted for William III de Cantilupe, lord of Abergavenny. Though this gentleman possibly never performed any great deed, it is still possible to imagine him astride his great horse with this shiny new pendant side by side with others on the horse’s harness.
Emily Freeman, our current West Midlands Headley Trust Intern has chosen:
WMID-D165CB– The combination of three coloured enamels on this button and loop fastener make it bright and striking, definitely one of the stand out finds that she have recorded. The slightly clumsy appearance adds to its charm, the enamel has been dripped onto the central square accidentally.
WMID-F6B912– a penny of Offa, King of Mercia. She enjoys recording coins and although this is not one she recorded, it is an exciting find because we are based in the old kingdom of Mercia. Offa’s dyke famously runs the length of Wales and The Marches, an attempt to keep the welsh tribes from attacking the Mercian kingdom. This coin has a bust on the obverse and the legend OFFA REX identifies the king. It is always amazing to find Early Medieval coins so this one is certainly a stand out record!
And drumroll time, our 20,000 record is: WMID-869918. A slightly clipped half groat of Henry VI, issued between 1422 and 1427 as part of the Annulet coinage and minted in Calais.
Well done and thank you to all members of the WMID team, past and present for their hard work, so we could achieve this milestone! Time for a celebration!